NERP TE Project 5.2 Experimental and field investigations of combined water quality and climate effects on corals and other reef organisms (AIMS)

The objective of this project is to assess how management of local stressors such as land runoff can help improve the resilience of coral reefs to global stressors (climate change) which are more difficult to manage. Complementary laboratory and field experiments will investigate the combined impacts of declining water quality (increased nutrients and sediments, and reduced light and salinity), increased sea temperature and ocean acidification on key reef species groups such as corals, foraminifera, crown-of-thorns starfish and rock-boring sea urchins. 1. To experimentally quantify changes in the thresholds for global change stressors (temperature increase, ocean acidification) due to elevated local stressors,(increased nutrients, increased turbidity, decreased salinity) on key coral reef organisms. 2. Investigating individual and synergistic effects of water quality and global change on reproduction, larval development and settlement of key coral reef invertebrates (e.g. corals, echinoderms). 3. Predicting the future performance of reef organisms, by experimentally testing hypotheses about differences in the vulnerability of coral species to ocean acidification, as derived from our studies of natural CO2 seeps. 4. Using inshore reefs as a model system to investigate the performance of calcifying organisms at low or variable carbonate saturation state.

Increasing sea temperatures, ocean acidification and reduced water quality from terrestrial run-off are likely to significantly alter marine and coastal ecosystems over the next few decades. To date, research investigating the impacts of these threats has considered each threat individually, but their interactions and cumulative impacts are as yet poorly understood and potentially more damaging than each threat in isolation.

Principal Investigator
Uthicke, Sven, Dr Australian Institute of Marine Science (AIMS) s.uthicke@aims.gov.au

Publications / Data

Tags: marine